The New Today

This is welcome news!!!

THE NEW TODAY welcomes the announcement from Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government will revamp the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and seek to acquire its own set of equipment to do Road Construction and Maintenance.

This will mark a significant departure from the dangerous policy of the former New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell and his influential deputy, Gregory Bowen.

These two major figures in the past regime totally dismantled the Public Works Department of government in preference to contracting all infrastructure work in the hands of the private sector.

This decision which had very far-reaching implications for the island especially the Treasury was a clear political move by the NNP to put taxpayers’ money into the hands of its supporters.

The NNP did not learn from the mistake it made by doing away with the Public Works Department when Hurricane Ivan unfortunately hit the island in September 2004.

The place was littered with fallen trees and most areas were not easily accessible as government had no heavy duty equipment of its own to do any clearance work.

The owners of equipment were waiting on government to give them the go-ahead to get their equipment into motion in order to clear many of the roads that were blocked and not motorable.

The Congress party of Tillman Thomas campaigned for the 2008 general election on the platform of bringing back the Public Works.

The Public Utilities portfolio was given to Cuban-trained Civil Engineer Joseph Gilbert but nothing was seriously done under his watch to bring into fruition a functioning Department of Public Works.

The new NDC political boss and Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has lamented the fact that his one-year old government is handicapped when it comes to doing any road construction and maintenance as it owns not a single piece of equipment on the island.

This deliberate policy of the defeated NNP regime of contracting everything out to the private sector resulted in some of its key supporters becoming millionaires overnight.

Its supporters were able to invest thousands of dollars in bobcats, tractors, cranes, trucks and other heavy-duty machines in order to position themselves for all the lucrative infrastructural contracts on offer from the State.

There are also claims of the country being “ripped off” when it came to Value for Money as systems were lacking in terms of monitoring the work done by the Contractors.

Many allegations surfaced about underhand dealings between public officers who were known to be aligned to the NNP machinery and some of the persons who were awarded contacts to do infrastructural work.

One competent Electrical Engineer complained of being openly told by persons in the Ministry of Works that he will never get a contract as he was not prepared to fall in line with the policy of “Money Under The Table” that was perfected by some public officers.

The Congress government would have to seek the assistance of friendly governments around the world to help acquire a fleet of equipment that a Department of Public Works need in order to fulfill its mandate.

It is a huge task as skilled and qualified workers including mechanics and drivers will be needed to staff the rebirth of the Public Works Department.

If the Prime Minister succeeds in this endeavor then he can put it down as achieving an important aspect of Transformation.

THE NEW TODAY would also like to make some passing remarks on the position taken by the NDC government to provide an opportunity for all students who sat the Common Entrance exam to be afforded a secondary education.

One of the dangers with the system is that many students will just be going up and up and on reaching Form Five are just forced to exit the school system without much to show by way of achievement.

The government must move quickly to put a system in place in which principals and teachers are allowed to spot those students who are academically inclined and those who will excel in technical areas like Carpentry, Masonry, Refrigeration, Plumbing, Electrical among others.

The government will also have to invest heavily in the creation of Technical and Vocational institutes attached to many of our Secondary schools in order to cater for the needs of these special students.

The system must be designed in such a way that Grenada can use these institutes as the nursery to find its future skilled manpower needs.

The NEWLO concept should be encouraged and implemented by government in more of our parishes in order to provide the perfect platform for those students who are not interested in careers to become lawyers, doctors, and engineers but are masters in other fields that call for the use of their God-given hands and talents.

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